The teacher standing before the young knows their faces never change. Year by year they ache and dream the same desires — for wandering love to visit — for their ferocity to be settled and released — to please go; no please stay.
They awaken to the searing happiness of all their senses all at once — precarious as a cataract of fresh-poured bronze.
For years I stood and marked thousands who grew into weighing what they would make and become.
When I shut my eyes, the sweep of classes appears like weather, like snow squalls, cloud shadows, sea storms, like wind pushing leaves and birds. They passed so quickly. Those sets of wild children hastened all through my archaic youth and its ascent into the long iron age that followed.
Now we two sit at tables in kitchens and write on tablets of white paper soon filled with pictures, sentences, boxes and arrow lines that gust about the page. This is teaching in the steel age — a pair of voices dipping, bending about, rarely colliding, a conversation in a small room.
Often quiet, again I try to hear the voice behind the voice, for the anxious pleasure of his or her new world discoveries.
I once worked from dawn past noon but in the steel age night is coming through the trees, through the windows and into the kitchens where it closes around the lights above our hunched forms. They tire and sometimes hold their foreheads in their hands, their long day ebbing toward sleep. We work amid the scents of dinner and the ministrations of dogs who drift in to lay their heads in our laps.
I read only this one face per hour that waits and falls and rises and is patient with me.
Then I drive along dark roads where deer, suddenly alight, pause along the edges, and once home I drink a glass of red and with the thousands dream of the ages next in line.